If you are one of the fans that were sent into a frenzy when the Tigers got jumped in the AP Poll for the second time this season, take a breath. Instead of moaning about the disrespect, or the biases, step back and think about one thing. That is the fact that there is no coach better at motivating his team using the disrespect card than Dabo Swinney.
It was about this time last year when the Tigers head coach spoke of riding on the “ROY Bus,” in an effort to create some disrespect when there wasn’t a whole lot to be found. It worked to perfection, and it is time to take another ride.
There is no debating that through its first five games this team was still looking to find its footing. The defense had played better than many expected, but it was the offense that was slow to get going. After the teams ugly performance against UNC in which they had to hang on for a 21-20 win, the media pounced. They needed a contender they could label as a pretender, and the Tigers fit that bill. Once you are labeled with that moniker, it is tough to escape it.
For two weeks this team heard all of the talk. The doubt from the media, the naysayers inside its own fanbase, and getting dropped from its perch atop the AP and Coaches Polls. When the Tigers took the field against Florida State on Saturday afternoon, they looked like a team that had been listening. They came out of the gate throwing haymakers. The Seminoles never had a chance to compete. By the time they knew what had hit them it was 21-0, and the game was over. This is what my friends over at Shakin’ The Southland call “Scorched Earth Dabo,” a term coined by one of the writers there, and one that fits perfectly.
Coming out of the bye week many expected to see a more focused Tiger team, and one that would be taking no prisoners against FSU. That is exactly what we got. The Tigers dropping another spot in the poll despite its dominating win is just another piece of ammunition for this coaching staff to use as motivation. Louisville, you’re next.
If this team is setting the stage for another national title run, expect more of scorched earth Dabo. No, this program isn’t going to start running up the score in an effort to accumulate style points, but they will be dominant. You do not have to run up the score to make a statement, ask Florida State. People tend to forget that ESPN doesn’t decide who the four playoff teams are. That is done by the playoff committee that is mostly filled by former coaches and administrators who know what it is they’re watching.
After Saturday’s performance, combined with the fact that the Tigers were once again jumped, expect that chip we saw on the Tigers shoulder to remain firmly entrenched there. This teams best football is still ahead of it. The teams left on the Tigers schedule should take notice, this team will leave more scorched earth in its wake before it’s all said and done.